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The Upside Down Kingdom

What happens to the dark, when you turn on a light? This is the conversation I was having with my kids the other day, and they got it right, so I know you can too. It’s not a trick question! What happens? You turn on a light and the dark goes away. Right!

So what happens to the light when you turn on the dark? My daughter answered this one perfectly. “That doesn’t make any sense mommy?” No. It doesn’t. You can’t turn on the dark. Dark is the absence of light. It’s what lingers when the light isn’t on.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The lesson my kids and I were talking about here was how to be light in every situation. Don’t let the darkness put out your light. You are the light and as easily as flipping on a switch extinguishes the darkness, so can we easily bring the light into the darkness of this world. We want to use every opportunity to show that light.

That’s just an example of God’s upside down Kingdom. We think that it is so hard to live in this dark world and that sin is so tempting and so overwhelming. The truth is if we invite the light of Jesus into the darkness, the darkness flees. That seems like such an easy concept right?

How about this, what do you do when you’re down to your last $20 and God suddenly convicts you to pay for someone else’s meal? That’s a really hard decision. That’s a sacrifice. It just doesn’t make sense. But enter God’s upside down Kingdom.

It happened to me and my kids. I was vacation renting the house, because I couldn’t afford my mortgage anymore. It was just supposed to get us through a few months until we could get back on our feet. The problem was I wasn’t getting any bookings. October went by. November. December passed by and not a single booking. I was so disappointed and confused. God had called me to do this thing, but nothing was happening and we were out of savings. January’s mortgage was not going to get paid. But suddenly, God gave us a miracle! We got a booking! And it was enough to pay this months mortgage!

I was praising and thanking God for his provision when He spoke. “That’s tithe.” I was floored and arguing. “God, we haven’t gotten any bookings and I need this money. You know we’re struggling. Why are you asking me to do this?” But He asked me to trust Him and I did. So we took that money that we couldn’t afford and put it in the tithe. And the moment it happened I heard Him so clearly again tell me “That’s 10%.” I’m not lying to you. After that, we got booking, after booking, after booking. The entire summer was booked up. We got so many bookings in fact that I not only paid the mortgage for 6 months, but I paid off all the debt I owed, which freed enough money in our budget for us to be able to move back into our home.

That is God’s upside down Kingdom. You give instead of take. You’re light instead of dark. You bless instead of curse.

Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

And trust me, I know this one is a very hard one. I’ve been, so many times, on the end of cursing instead of blessing. And gritting my teeth in unwilling “obedience” when I do have to.

God gave me the name Balaam in a dream a few months ago and I had to look him up to see what God was speaking here. He’s that “prophet” (seer, fortune teller, not of God) who was beating his donkey and God opened the donkey’s mouth to speak. You know that story where the Bible says a word that causes all the Kindergarteners (and those of us with a Kindergarten sense of humor) to laugh.

Well the story continues that Balaam was going to meet this wicked King who wanted to go to war against the Israelites and he wanted Balaam to put a curse on them. Even though God had told Balaam over and over that He didn’t want him to go, God relented and said fine! Just go! God had better plans in mind. He doesn’t have to argue with the devil or fight against evil with any kind of effort. He’s God!

So off Balaam goes to curse the Israelites. He opens his mouth and out pours out:

Numbers 24:3-9

“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open: How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob; how lovely are your homes, O Israel! They spread before me like palm groves, like gardens by the riverside. They are like tall trees planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their offspring have all they need. Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. God brought them out of Egypt; for them he is as strong as a wild ox. He devours all the nations that oppose him, breaking their bones in pieces, shooting them with arrows. Like a lion, Israel crouches and lies down; like a lioness, who dares to arouse her? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, O Israel, and cursed is everyone who curses you.”

What a beautiful picture of God’s upside down Kingdom! The enemy of Israel cannot curse them. What they call out as curses turns to blessing. This is for us too. What curses our enemies may call down on us, God calls blessings. He could literally transform it in their mouths if He wanted to. Curses on God’s kids become blessings.

In the same way, our blessings called down on our enemies are like curses for them. Think about that! What happens to the dark when you turn on the light? The darkness runs. What happens to our enemies who long to live in the dark, when the light comes in? So call down light on your enemies. Call down blessing. Don’t curse them, but bless them. Who knows what will happen. Maybe they will shriek away from the light, or maybe they will accept it and see the truth and be transformed.

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